Outteridge to helm Swiss SailGP team

Published on August 14th, 2022

When Switzerland SailGP Team was revealed in September 2021 to join Season 3 of the SailGP global sports league, their proclamation was to launch a new chapter for Swiss sailing.

“Our goal is to create a competitive team with the best Swiss sailors,” noted driver Sébastien Schneiter. “We have to learn at first but our aim is to sail at the front and compete with the best.”

While their initial intent was for the Swiss team’s crew to mainly comprise of young Swiss sailing talent, it has evolved to become more international with the latest pick-up of Olympic gold and silver medalist Nathan Outteridge (AUS).

After finishing the first two seasons of SailGP in second overall for Japan, Outteridge’s teams was removed from Season 3 when they failed to live up to commercial requirements, and the Swiss saw an opportunity to learn from the master and brought him in.

In February 2022, they had already added two-time Olympic medalist Stuart Bithell (GBR) and fellow two-time Olympian Jason Saunders (NZL), with British grinder Richard Mason also joining the crew. In the last event in Great Britain, half of the 6-person team was Swiss which included strategist Laurane Mettraux.

Outteridge will step into the driver position during the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Copenhagen on August 20-21 but emphasized that his ‘goal’ is to get Swiss driver Schneiter ‘up to speed’. At 26, Schneiter became the youngest driver when Switzerland entered the league at the beginning of this season.

“I’m just coming in to help as much as I can and really give Seb a platform to work with moving forward,” noted Outteridge. “It’s not like I’m going to take over the program and make it the ‘Nathan Outteridge Swiss team’, it’s still Seb’s team and it’s still his crew.”

It comes after Outteridge joined the Swiss team in the last event as a sailing advisor and was spotted driving the team’s F50 on practice days while Schneiter observed in the sixth sailor position. With Outteridge on the helm, the team will need to add a Swiss crew to fulfill the minimum nationality  requirement of three of six.

Future event practice days are likely to follow a similar format. “In training days, we can share the driving,” Outteridge said. “Seb can watch, then we can hand the wheel over and he can do it as well. Part of my role will be training Seb up to be the best driver that he can be by sharing the experience I’ve had in the class.”

Boat handling, maneuver consistency, and decisive starts are key areas of improvement. Outteridge compared his preferred starting method of ‘being out in the back and sending it through the gaps’ to Schneiter’s more ‘conservative’ style of ‘getting into the front row and pulling the trigger from there’. “Starting is one area we’ll be working on – no question,” he said.

When asked why new teams might struggle in the F50 fleet, Outteridge said that the “boats are just so difficult to sail.” The racing format too, which involves “tiny” starting blocks and “hitting the line at pace around the fleet” is “tough”.

Outteridge, who helped develop the F50 class, pointed to the long-awaited triumph of the New Zealand team in Plymouth as evidence that good results take time.

“I really saw Pete (Burling) and the Kiwis put together a good solid weekend [in Plymouth] but it’s taken them a year and a half to get there,” he said, “so we’re under no illusion that for Seb and the Swiss team, it’s going to take more than a couple of events to be fighting for podiums.”

SailGP informationDenmark detailsSeason 3 scoreboardFacebookHow to watch

Season Three Standings (after three events)
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby – 29 points
2. Great Britain, Ben Ainslie – 24 points
3. New Zealand, Peter Burling – 22 points
4. Canada, Phil Robertson – 22 points
5. Denmark, Nicolai Sehested – 20 points
6. France, Quentin Delapierre – 15 points
7. United States, Jimmy Spithill – 13 points
8. Spain, Jordi Xammar – 8 points
9. Switzerland, Sébastien Schneiter – 7 points

2022-23 SailGP Season 3 Schedule
May 14-15, 2022 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess
June 18-19, 2022 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 30-31, 2022 – Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth
August 19-20, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 10-11, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 24-25, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 12-13, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 13-14, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 17-18, 2023 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 17-18, 2023 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 6-7, 2023 – United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco (Season 3 Grand Final)

Format for 2022-23 SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000 prize money to be split among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.

For competition documents, click here.

Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans for event prize money as the season culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.

Source: SailGP

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